The Independent Newspaper Publishers Association,INPA, has written to Imo State Governor, People Rochas Okorocha on the recent release of the second tranche of the Paris Club refund to Imo State.
The letter reads in full:
AN OPEN LETTER TO OWELLE ROCHAS OKOROCHA
EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR IMO STATE
INPA POSITION/STAND OVER THE RECENT N7 BILLION NAIRA PARIS CLUB FUND FOR IMO STATE.
1. Recently, the federal government released another trench of the Paris Club fund and we authoritatively gathered that Imo state got a little above seven Billion Naira (N7B). Specifically, this money just like the previous huge Paris club funds was meant for the payment of outstanding months of pension arrears, complete payment of outstanding or rather deducted workers salaries, payment of severance benefits of past Imo state House of Assembly members and their Aides and the defrayment of other outstanding debts in the state.
2. Gladly, at least, Your Excellency has openly accepted the receipt of this huge fund from the federal government perhaps the first of its nature since your administration and although, you did promise to ensure that the money would be used to offset these pied up and disturbing debts but INPA as a major stakeholder in Imo state and as members of the fourth Estate of the Realm, we have our fears going by the mystery or secrecy that shrouded the disbursement and utilization of the previous funds hence this open letter.
3. Your Excellency, may be unknown to you, many Imolites particularly the suffering Pensioners are afraid that this money will not be judiciously used for the purpose for which it was originally meant and their apprehension is understandable because once beaten, twice shy. We therefore enjoin you sir to be a bit compassionate and transparent this time around and prove these skeptical Imo people wrong. Your Excellency, please may we remind you that this money is not a free money. It was not meant to be used for frivolities nor in grandstanding.
1. Possibly just like other states are doing, let Your Excellency constitute a committee of eminent personalities and groups to oversee the disbursement of this money and ensure that you mitigate the sufferings of our weak, traumatized, sick and dehumanized Pensioners. Nothing less than this will be acceptable to Imo people in general and INPA in particular.
2. Let the details of the disbursement be made open for all Imolites to see. INPA promises to assist in publishing these details free of charge for government in the interest of Imo people and in order to satisfy their curiosity.
3. The Committee for the disbursement should have representatives from NUP, NLC, TUC, the clergy, civil society organization, NUJ, INPA and government officials for upmost transparency.
4. Imo people will expect that the Governor made known the actual amount and Months that the state is owing Pensioners, workers and other affected categories of past government appointees. This was exactly what his colleagues in Bayalsa, Akwa Ibom etc did and we expect him to follow suit.
5. Finally, at the end of the disbursement, let there be a jointly signed letter by all the committee members confirming that everything went well without undue interference from government and INPA will also publish it free of charge.
Your Excellency, all these measures are to allay the fears of Imo people and possibly rekindle their lost trust, confidence and hope in your government.
Let it be noted that INPA will not shy away from its constitutional responsibility no matter the intimidation as the watchdog of the society and act in accordance with the yearnings of the people as we will continue to monitor the processes of the disbursement of this money and report it accordingly.
While we look forward to your strict adherence to these suggestions, please do accept as always the assurances of highest esteem.
Elder Lambert Ojukwu Elder Chukwuemeka Ike
For and on behalf of the following Newspapers
The Big Truth
The Records Express